Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Thu 26th Apr, 2007

CLUG meeting April 2007 - DAR, OSM, ISO

Tonight was a bit of a last-minute effort, as Chris hadn't managed to arrange any speakers. I volunteered to do a talk on DAR, since I'd recently had a think-my-data-all-gone scare, and Andrew Loughhead volunteered to do a talk on OpenStreetMap, a project he's been involved in for a while. Brad Hards also volunteered to bring along some DVDs and some ISOs of the recent Feisty Fawn release, so our trio of TLAs could be complete.

I'd also managed to combine not preparing my talk until the last minute with forgetting that I had already said I'd go to see "For The Term Of His Natural Life" at the National Library with some friends. And I didn't realise this until I was basically committed to going to the CLUG meeting. So it all felt a bit rushed and unorganised.

To cover my bit of the talk, DAR is an archiver built for the modern world: it compresses, it slices, it encrypts, it allows you to include and exclude file easily, it seeks right to where you need to be on the disk rather than reading through an entire .tar.gz file, and it saves Extended Attributes so your SELinux contexts and Beagle annotations will be saved too. I'll put the slides of the talk up soon, but it wasn't a very in-depth look at the program anyway so it's not really going to tell you any more than you'd get reading the man pages.

I'd forgot, when I was standing up, to point out the absence of my laptop case cover. This is because, on this very day, I have picked up six pieces of 0.5mm stainless steel cut to my exacting specifications by a powerful jet of water, and taken them to a place where they can be bent into the right shape to fit in my laminated laptop case covers. I had to leave the case cover with Precision Metals so they could work out how to bend both pieces to the right shape. So I'm very close to actually being able to make them. With my dining table near completion, it looks like I'm actually finishing some of my projects!

Andrew's talk on OpenStreetMap was much more interesting, and he fielded a lot more questions on it as a result. OpenStreetMap is solving the libré problem of the data on Google Maps and similar mapping sites being free to look at but not free to use in your own work. With OpenStreetMap you can correct it if you think it's wrong (leaving aside the 'easter egg' issue), add to it, analyze the map data in new ways, and so forth. There were a lot of very good questions, which I think shows that geodata is one of the current hot topics in computing these days.

Finally, I took orders for pizza (a new process to me!), Brad fired up his DVD burner, and we had the regular stand-around-and-talk that seems to be perennially popular at CLUG meetings.

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